1. Many Outsmart Disease readers who submitted their questions to you tried different brands of thyroid medication, many supplements and different diets (juicing, no gluten, candida diet, eliminating some foods) but still experience many hypothyroid symptoms. Most common are weight gain, depression, low energy, sleep issues and hair loss. They feel like nothing works for them and nobody can help to get their thyroid problems under control. As a functional medicine practitioner you are getting amazing results with your patients. What have you found that works best for hypothyroidism?
Tom Brimeyer: This is a great question because it’s something that I deal with on a daily basis. One of the biggest issues surrounding hypothyroidism today is that very few, and I mean very few, practitioners even understand hypothyroidism from a physiological perspective.
They don’t understand the thyroid hormone pathway and how other hormones influence the thyroid and vice versa. They don’t understand how diet influences these hormones, organ function, thyroid function, immune function, etc. So, how can you even attempt to treat (or outsmart) something that you don’t even understand to begin with?
The truth is that we live in a world of fad and “pop” medicine where practitioners and people alike are more interested in treating symptoms than correcting the underlying problem. And the alternative health community is really no different in many respects.
But this is a very dangerous game to play with your health, because people don’t realize that so many of these “pop” diets (i.e. juicing, fasting, Candida, food elimination, etc.) are actually quite thyroid suppressive. So, people get stuck in this trap of trying to correct one problem, or treat one particular symptom, while causing or worsening another problem. Trying to solve one problem, only to create another, and oftentimes more serious problem, is not an effective way to improve your health.
The issue of thyroid medication and supplements is another problem of hypothyroidism treatment. Many thyroid supplements are practically useless because they don’t actually contain any real ingredients that specifically improve thyroid function. Other thyroid supplements, like iodine, can actually be quite harmful and further suppress your thyroid.
When it comes to medication, most people are prescribed a T4 only medication like Synthroid or Levothyroxine. But, T4 has to be converted into T3 by your liver and most hypothyroidism sufferers have dysfunctional livers and can’t properly convert thyroid hormone. So you can take all the T4 you want but if you can’t properly convert it then it won’t do you much good.
Other people can’t tolerate certain forms of thyroid medication because they have additional hormonal imbalances, which oftentimes need to be addressed first. Some people simply can’t the thyroid hormone to their cells. There really are a number of potential issues.
When someone comes to me and says they have tried everything and nothing works. That’s simply not true. All that is telling you is that you haven’t addressed the underlying problem(s).
All of these “pop” diets are based entirely on theory, or what may work in a Petri dish in a laboratory. But, our bodies are not Petri dishes. And theory doesn’t get you very far in the real world.
When you can look at and understand hypothyroidism from a physiological perspective, it all starts to make perfect sense. And when you can make sense of and understand the problem, then you can effectively treat (or outsmart) hypothyroidism. And that’s what really makes my approach different than most others.
I’m not just recommending some theory. I’m showing people the science and physiology of how the human body actually works. And it amazes me how many people, doctors included, continue to completely ignore the physiology.
2. You program Hypothyroidism Revolution is focused on hypothyroidism treatment. Many people asked: “I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, will your program work for me?”
Tom Brimeyer: The short answer is yes. My program does address Hashimoto’s. But Hashimoto’s is also very misunderstood today. Hashimoto’s is typically diagnosed today by the presence of anti-thyroid antibodies in the blood. However, just because you have these antibodies in the blood doesn’t mean that they came from the thyroid gland or they are damaging the gland itself. For example, these same anti-thyroid antibodies are found more frequently with rheumatoid arthritis than Hashimoto’s.
The only way to truly diagnose Hashimoto’s is to actually biopsy the gland itself.
In simplistic terms, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is Hypothyroidism with inflammation that has directly affected your immune system.
The key to overcoming this which we address with the program is to stop the inflammatory cycle that drives Hashimoto’s.
In more complex terms, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is typically caused by a cascade of events that result in calcium retention and excessive estrogen absorption within your cells, which drive the inflammatory process at the cellular level.
The excessive estrogen also inhibits the proteolytic enzymes necessary for the thyroid gland to release its thyroid colloid/hormone which is why many Hashimoto’s patients develop an enlarged thyroid gland (not because of an iodine deficiency).
The immune component of Hashimoto’s comes into play due to the effects that this process has on your thymus gland. Your thymus gland serves the important role of regulating your immune system. But your thymus gland easily becomes damaged and atrophies due to a number of factors including: chronic stress and excessive estrogen.
Once the thymus becomes damaged and atrophies, this can disrupt the entire immune process. Without your thymu’s ability to properly regulate your immune system, your B-Cells (cells that produce antibodies) continue to produce antibodies but with the greater chance of producing auto-antibodies, thus driving auto-immune issues.
In order to correct the issue, you have to correct the underlying immune dysfunction beginning with the thymus gland.
The good news is that once the factors mentioned above are properly dealt with, the thymus gland can and will regenerate, thus restoring proper regulation and function to your immune system.
3. Is it important to know if the patient is Th1 or Th2 dominant? If so, what is the best way to determine this and what should hypothyroid patients know about their immune system?
Tom Brimeyer: This is a very complex question and it’s really putting the cart before the horse, because there are many factors that influence immune function and balance. Many people focus so hard on minute details that they end up missing the big picture.
For example, I just gave a simplified explanation of how the function of the immune system, and thymus gland particularly, can become dysfunctional and damaged do to the effects of excessive estrogen with Hashimoto’s. And T-cells develop within the Thymus gland, so it should be obvious that this plays a major role in immune dysfunction.
So, you can attempt to determine and modulate Th1 and Th2, which can be beneficial, but you’re really just treating the symptom while ignoring the real underlying problem(s) that are causing the immune dysfunction in the first place.
4. Should iodine or iodide supplements be used in Hashimoto’s? Do you use iodine and vitamin D in your program to treat hypothyroidism?
Tom Brimeyer: Iodine supplements should not be used with hypothyroidism in general, and definitely not Hashimoto’s. In fact, it can be quite dangerous.
This poses a big problem because there are a lot of practitioners out there handing out iodine like it’s candy, and even more people are trying to self medicate themselves with various iodine supplements without understanding what they are really doing.
Today, goiters are very rarely the result of iodine deficiency and much more commonly a result of estrogen dominance, which as I mentioned previously plays a significant role in Hashimoto’s.
Our bodies do require iodine but today we get plenty from the foods that we eat. A big problem today is that most iodine supplements are recommending excessive dosages (many 80+ times the daily recommended amount) that lead to iodine toxicity. Too much iodine will suppress the thyroid worsening hypothyroidism, can cause goiter, and can actually cause damage to the thyroid gland itself.
This is a topic that I’ve discussed on my blog where I’ve presented numerous research studies showing that excessive iodine itself will actually cause Hashimoto’s such as:
Induction of autoimmune thyroiditis in chickens by dietary iodine:
“These results suggest that excessive consumption of iodine in the United States may be responsible for the increased incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis.”
Spontaneous Hashimoto-like thyroiditis in cats:
“Animals with excess iodide intake, however, show an aggravation of the autoimmune inflammatory activity.”
“In general, iodine deficiency attenuates, while iodine excess accelerates autoimmune thyroiditis in autoimmune prone individuals.”
With that being said, it’s doesn’t make much sense to use a supplement that has been shown to cause the very problem that you’re trying to correct.
With respect to Vitamin D, it can be very beneficial if used properly. It’s an important antioxidant, which helps with calcium absorption, helps to regulate parathyroid hormone, protects against heart disease, etc. But, like with all supplements, you have to careful with the source you use. Many vitamin D supplements contain solvents or other inactive ingredients that are known to suppress thyroid function.
5. Symptoms of many health conditions mimic thyroid disease. How a person can tell if it is hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue or menopause?
Tom Brimeyer: The problem here is that most people look at all of these dysfunctions separately without understanding that thyroid, stress hormones, estrogen, progesterone, etc. are all intertwined and affect the function of each other.
For example, hypothyroidism and adrenal/stress hormone dysfunction, typically worsen with menopause because of the interactions between all of these hormones. It’s very common for menopausal women to become estrogen dominant and progesterone deficient.
When estrogen becomes dominant, it directly interferes with cellular metabolism, which drives adrenal/stress hormone production. The over-production of adrenal/stress hormones inhibits thyroid function and the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver, which drives hypothyroidism…
Estrogen also inhibits the proteolytic enzymes that allow the thyroid gland to release its thyroid colloid/hormone, which also drives hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism further interferes with cellular metabolism, which further drives adrenal/stress hormone production…
And what ends up happening is that these hormonal imbalances all drive each other and become a much larger interrelated problem.
When you look at any one of these imbalances separately, you’re only looking at one piece of the puzzle. Simply trying to address any one alone, cannot solve the bigger problem, and typically doesn’t get you very far.
This is why in my program we don’t just focus on thyroid exclusively. We don’t have the option of ignoring these other hormones that play a role in this process. We have to also account for adrenal/stress hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. because it all affects thyroid function.
6. Many people are confused what to eat if they have hypothyroidism because there is a lot of misleading information about the diet. Will your program provide a shopping list, meal plans and recipes? What else is important to know about hypothyroid diet?
Tom Brimeyer: Yes, my hypothyroidism program does include a shopping list, meal plans, a recipe book, various meal calculators, as well as other tools. And I did this because I wanted to make sure that there was no room for error when following the program.
What’s also very important to understand, that most people don’t realize, is that it’s not quite as simple as eat these foods and don’t eat those foods, which is how most people think with respect their diet today. Your diet has a huge influence over your hormones and thyroid function and there are many other variables that have to be accounted for including food ratios, meal frequency, measuring your body’s response to a given meal, and really learning how to properly fine-tune your diet for optimal thyroid function.
This is truly about learning how to effectively use food as medicine to properly regulate thyroid and hormone function.
7. How to lose weight with hypothyroidism and are people losing some weight following your hypothyroidism treatment program?
Tom Brimeyer: Weight loss is yet another very misunderstood topic. Society has a very backwards approach to weight loss, where we’ve been brainwashed to believe that being overweight or obese is the cause of our health problems. But it’s actually the other way around. Being overweight is a byproduct of being unhealthy.
You have to understand that you don’t lose weight to get healthy, but instead you get healthy to lose weight.
People today want immediate results. Because of this, they try a number of quick fix weight loss solutions, some of which can work initially. But what you don’t understand is that these quick fix weight loss solutions work by driving stress hormones higher and forcing your body to break down your own healthy tissue for energy.
You might be led to believe that you’re burning lots of fat, but the reality is that you’re also breaking down healthy muscle tissue, breaking down your healthy organs, driving inflammation, suppressing your immune system, suppressing your thyroid, and the list goes on and on. This really damages your metabolism and further suppresses your thyroid which is why many people end up gaining the weight back, plus more in the long run, along with the addition of more related health issues/symptoms.
I take a very different approach to weight loss because I don’t believe in losing weight at the expense of your thyroid and health.
It makes much more sense to focus on improving thyroid function and maximizing your metabolism, which is really the only way to achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss.
This is why I don’t consider my hypothyroidism treatment program to be a quick fix weight loss solution. Instead, we focus on fixing the underlying problem(s) and correcting the thyroid dysfunction first.
A lot of people do lose weight on my hypothyroidism program but it’s a result of improved thyroid function and the balance of other various hormones. It’s important to understand that thyroid function typically doesn’t correct overnight. So, it oftentimes does take some time to correct the thyroid and when thyroid function improves, that’s when the weight loss typically occurs.
P.S. In addition to his Hypothyroidism treatment program Tom Brimeyer just released a new exercise program specifically designed for hypothyroidism sufferers. Based on the scientific research the Hypothyroidism Exercise Revolution program covers in so much detail exactly how exercise suppresses your thyroid and exactly what you MUST do to make exercise safe for your thyroid and boost your metabolism in the process. Tom offers his new Hypothyroidism exercise program for a low introduction price right now, however the price can go up any time.
P.P.S. Do you like what you read and would like to read more? Subscribe to the Outsmart Disease thyroid blog updates and get your FREE e-mail course Nutritional guide for Hashimoto’s disease.